ROSEMEAD, CA — There are at least 656 reasons balloons should not be released outdoors. If the adrift metallic balloons that caused the 656 power outages last year in Southern California Edison’s (SCE) service territory had been tied to a weight — as required by California law — or not released by someone, that number and the safety hazards it presents could have been drastically lower.
With Valentine’s Day approaching and balloons traditionally leading to an increase in those outages in February, SCE is urging its customers to make sure their balloons are always tied to those weights. This will help prevent the helium-filled objects from floating into power lines and causing power outages and potential injuries and property damage.
Last February, SCE experienced 30 balloon-related outages, down nearly 50 percent from the 59 in February 2013. But, last year’s 656 overall outages were down only 5 percent from the 689 in 2013. This led to 2,965 hours of interruption to customers compared to 2,455 hours in 2013.
“They’re easy to prevent, but it only takes one floating balloon on Valentine’s Day or any day to cause an outage for thousands,” said James Mackenzie, SCE principal manager of Corporate Safety Programs. “Keep them indoors if possible. But, tying them down or attaching them to a weight is the best prevention outdoors.”
SCE recommends some other safety tips for handling metallic balloons:
- Do not attempt to retrieve a balloon — or any foreign object — tangled in power lines. Instead, call SCE at 800-611-1911 and report the problem. • Never tie a metallic balloon to a child’s wrist. If the balloon comes into contact with electricity, it will travel through the balloon and into the child, causing serious injury or even death.
- Never attach streamers to any balloon — latex or metallic.
- If you see a downed line or dangling wire — even if it appears not to be live — don’t touch or approach it or anything in contact with it and call 911 immediately.
- When done with balloons, do not release them. Puncture them several times or cut the knot and throw them in the garbage to prevent them from floating away.
More on metallic balloon safety can be found at on.sce.com/staysafe. Follow Edision on Twitter and Facebook.
About Southern California Edison
An Edison International (NYSE:EIX) company, Southern California Edison is one of the nation’s largest electric utilities, serving a population of nearly 14 million via 4.9 million customer accounts in a 50,000-square-mile service area within Central, Coastal and Southern California.